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Behavioural effects of phenobarbitone II. Effects in nursing female mice

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Phenobarbitone supplied at concentrations of 187.5 mg/l and 500 mg/l (50–60 mg/kg and 120–190 mg/kg daily) in the drinking fluid of mice throughout pregnancy and lactation did not affect gestation period, numbers born or resorbed or pup weights at birth and weaning. The higher dose caused significant retardation in eye-opening, development of forelimb extension, negative geotaxis, in appearance of washing and self-grooming behaviours and in cessation of suckling. The lower dose had no detectable effects. Ethological methods were used to examine spontaneous behaviour of nursing dams within home cages on days 1, 7, 14 and 21 postpartum. Treated dams showed differences in behaviour from controls, the most marked of which were increased levels of Maternal Behaviour and decreases in Non-Social Activity in the high-dose group at day 1, and continuance of pup Nursing in both treated groups and Nest Building in the high-dose group at day 21 when controls were ceasing these behaviours. At 21 days all treated dams also showed less Immobility than controls and high-dose dams a smaller amount of pup Social Investigation. Many behavioural differences at 21 days were related to developmental delay of treated pups. Overall, phenobarbitone did not impair maternal care.

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Chapman, J.B., Cutler, M.G. Behavioural effects of phenobarbitone II. Effects in nursing female mice. Psychopharmacology 81, 252–257 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00427273

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Key words

  • Phenobarbitone
  • Chronic administration
  • Pup development
  • Maternal behaviour
  • Mouse